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STEM education is important to U.S. jobs

By Mark Rhoads, Missouri Energy Forum

This legislative session, we have seen multiple bills filed that promote the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).  It is a recognition of the importance of these areas of learning for our young people who will become the workforce of the future.

I was intrigued by a recent column written by Jack Gerard, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API). He indicated in 2015, millennials accounted for more than one-third of the natural gas and oil industry workforce and referenced a RAND Corporation study conducted for API that underscores the importance of training or education in one of the STEM disciplines. The importance placed on these disciplines by this industry is because it is seen as a pathway to industry job opportunities and integral to attracting more women and minorities into industry careers. Important takeaways from the study include:

  1. Nearly 20 percent of all current U.S. jobs require STEM skills and/or training.

  2. STEM jobs are projected to grow about 9 percent through 2024.

  3. Nearly half of all STEM jobs don’t require a four-year degree, and one-third of all STEM jobs are in blue-collar occupations. In the oil and gas industry, specifically, more than one million blue-collar job opportunities are projected through 2035.

  4. Students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2017 in STEM were projected to have average salaries ranging from nearly $60,000 to $66,000. This is a trend of adding $2,000 to $4,000 more than in 2016.

The oil and gas industry is just one example of the importance of making STEM education available to our students in Missouri. Many other industries, both established and emerging, will increasingly rely on workers trained in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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